Mary, did you know on that night long ago in Bethlehem, the night you gave birth in a lonely, dung strewn cattle shed, that one day you would stand shivering before a Roman execution stake and watch your son die a bloody and cruel death? Did you imagine the scene unfolding before your eyes now, as hated Roman soldiers gather beneath Him to cast lots for His clothing? When the angel came to you and called you highly favoured and blessed among women, did you know what that favour and blessing would require of you?
Mary, when you heard the words “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest” did you know He would die a criminal’s death and be labelled a liar and a false prophet? Did you know the voices of passing strangers would taunt and mock Him, daring Him to come down from the crudely made cross He had willingly laid down upon?
Mary, when God’s messenger declared your son would be given the throne of David and rule over all Israel, did you know He would be whipped and spat upon by heathen Gentile overlords? When it was promised that His Kingdom would know no end, did you ever imagine it might end before it had even begun, on a barren hill outside holy Jerusalem between two common thieves? Or did you, like all His disciples, imagine an earthly kingdom with your son seated on a golden throne ruling over Israel’s enemies?
And Mary, did you have any idea someone else’s son would stand beside you on this unimaginable day, supporting your fainting body as untold anguish gripped your mother’s soul? Did you ever think you would hear your son’s voice, labouring with His final breaths, give you into the care of another?
Mary, when you heard the voice of Simeon in the temple prophesying your heart would be pierced, did you know how terrible that piercing would be? When you urged your beloved son into revealing His identity before He was ready, did you know the events that would follow……leading Him, and you, here to Golgotha?
Mary, did you know?
And what of you, my friend? Did you know that those dreams you once held close, dreams and plans it seemed were given to you by God, would one day appear to come crashing down around you, leaving you hopeless, forsaken and shattered? Have you known a piercing of your soul so sharp you believe you can never recover? Have you been broken by discouragement, weariness and unanswered questions? Have you laboured, prayed, and believed and now find yourself spent, unable to go on? I too know this place.
But Mary didn’t know as she stood witness to the death of her son – and with Him the death of all her hope – that this was not the end. She didn’t yet understand that a grain must fall into the ground and appear to die before it can produce much more grain. Though Mary’s hope had died, God’s plan remained. It simply didn’t look like she had thought it would.
Mary, did you know your son would rise from the dead? Did you know His dark tomb would lie uncovered and empty, shaming principalities, powers and earthly rulers conspiring to annihilate him? Did you know His death would mean Life for humankind?
And did you remember, afterwards, those other words spoken by the angel Gabriel so long ago: “For with God nothing will be impossible”?
Mary, did you know, there on that dark day of grief and confusion, the miracle of light, grace and love so soon to be revealed to you? Did you know those secret things hidden in your heart, those prayers, those hopes, those longings planted by God, had first to die before they could live?
And if you had known, Mary, would you still have remained faithful to the One you held in your arms as he entered this hostile and foreign world all those years ago?
Faithfulness is costly.
But He who is the Faithful and True is able to keep us faithful.
Scripture passages used in this article: Luke 1:26-38; Jn. 19:25-27; Mark 15:29-30; Matt. 27:27-30; Matt. 27:35; Luke 2:34-35; Jn. 12:24; Luke 2:19; Jn. 2:3,4
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